This spicy chicken bulgogi recipe is served in lettuce cups and makes for the perfect easy 15-minute dinner. You don’t need to marinate this super flavorful and juicy chicken!
The best chicken bulgogi recipe
This is one of my all-time favorite Asian-inspired recipes. I love teriyaki chicken and orange chicken, but these spicy chicken bulgogi lettuce wraps are next level. They are easy to make, super flavorful, and fun to eat!
The chicken breast pieces are juicy and coated in a sticky savory-sweet bulgogi sauce made from soy sauce, gochujang Korean chili paste, rice wine, garlic, and red chili flakes for a spicy kick. It’s served on a bed of white or brown rice inside a lettuce cup. Seriously, this chicken bulgogi recipe is so delicious.
Make it on a weeknight for a quick 15-minute dinner, or serve at a party with friends to impress your guests. Everyone will love this fun and flavorful dish.
What is chicken bulgogi?
Bulgogi, also known as Korean beef barbecue, is traditionally made with thin slices of rib-eye coated in a savory and slightly sweet sauce made from soy sauce, gochujang, honey, rice wine, and a few other ingredients. In place of beef, we use chicken breast in this bulgogi recipe, making it leaner and still high in protein.
Ingredients in this spicy chicken bulgogi recipe
There are two parts to this chicken bulgogi recipe – the chicken and the lettuce wraps. Here is a list of ingredients, so you have everything prepared:
Chicken + Lettuce Wraps:
- Chicken Breast: First up, we use 1 pound (or 2 – 3 pieces) of skinless and boneless chicken breast. Cut them up into 1-inch bite-sized pieces, so it’s easy to fill your lettuce tacos.
- Olive Oil: 1 or 2 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil is needed to saute the onion and chicken pieces.
- Yellow Onion: Grab 1 small yellow onion for a sweet and sharp taste.
- Butter (Bibb) Lettuce: To make our lettuce cups, we need 1 head of butter lettuce.
- Rice: I love rice! Grab 1 cup of cooked white or brown rice to add to your chicken bulgogi lettuce tacos.
- Green Onions: Make for the perfect garnish.
- Sesame Seeds: Optional, but I love adding a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top of this spicy chicken bulgogi.
- Low-Sodium Soy Sauce: First up, we need 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce as the base of this delicious, homemade sweet and savory bulgogi sauce.
- Water: This helps thin the sauce out.
- Gochujang Korean Chili Paste: 1 Tablespoon of Gochujang goes a long way flavorwise. It adds the most delicious, authentic taste to these lettuce cups.
- Garlic Cloves: Add in 2 minced garlic cloves for the best taste.
- Ginger: Plus, 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger.
- Red Chilli Flakes: Add 1 – 3 teaspoons of red chili flakes to make this chicken bulgogi spicy. It all depends on how spicy you want it, so start with 1 teaspoon, taste the sauce, then add more.
- Rice Vinegar: For a little acidity, add 1 Tablespoon of rice vinegar.
- Sesame Oil: 1 teaspoon of sesame oil packs a flavor puck and makes this sauce taste super authentic.
- Honey: Based on your desired sweetness level, add in 1 or 2 Tablespoons of honey.
- Arrowroot or Tapioca Starch: Just 1 teaspoon of arrowroot, corn, or tapioca starch to help thicken this homemade bulgogi sauce.
Is chicken bulgogi spicy?
The level of spiciness in this chicken bulgogi recipe is up to you! Add up to 1 Tablespoon of red chili flakes to make it extra spicy. If you don’t like spice, then leave the red chili flakes off.
How to make spicy chicken bulgogi lettuce wraps
This one-pot spicy chicken bulgogi recipe is so easy to make in under 15 minutes! Any level cook can make it. Here are step-by-step instructions:
First, heat a large saute pan with olive oil to medium-high. Add onion and saute for 1 – 2 minutes, until translucent. Add chicken pieces and cook for 6 – 7 minutes total, until no longer pink on the outside.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, water, gochujang chili paste, minced garlic, grated ginger, vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and arrowroot starch. RECIPE TIP: start with 1 tsp of red chili flakes, taste the sauce after simmering, and add more if you want it spicier.
Once the chicken is ready, reduce heat to low and pour the bulgogi sauce on top of the chicken. Stir to combine and simmer on low until the sauce thickens slightly – for about 2 – 5 minutes. Taste and add more red chili flakes, if desired. NOTE: make sure heat is on low or the sauce will burn.
Meanwhile, wash lettuce; then break off all large leaves and place them on a paper towel to dry. Then, add a few spoonfuls of rice to each lettuce cup, and top with warm chicken, sliced green onions, and sesame seeds. Enjoy this spicy chicken bulgogi recipe!
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
Is this recipe healthy?
Yes, I consider this chicken bulgogi recipe to be healthy for a few reasons. First, it is high in lean protein since we use chicken breast. Second, we use honey to naturally sweeten our homemade bulgogi sauce, not cane sugar. Third, we serve it in lettuce wraps with a scoop of rice. Fourth, it is gluten-free and dairy-free.
What is the best lettuce for lettuce cups and tacos?
Butter lettuce, also known as Bibb lettuce, is the best kind to use for lettuce cups and tacos. However, you can also try iceberg, Boston, or little gem.
Can I make it low carb?
Yes, to make this recipe low carb, just leave off the rice and use cooked cauliflower rice or Right Rice.
Can I use chicken thigh?
Yes, you can use chicken thigh in place of the chicken breast in this recipe. I recommend buying skinless and boneless chicken thighs so they are easy to cut up.
Can I make it less spicy?
If you do not like spice, just leave off the red chili flakes.
Can I serve it in a bowl, not in lettuce wraps?
Yes! Feel free to serve this chicken bulgogi in a rice or noodle bowl with a side of roasted or steamed vegetables.
How to store and reheat leftovers:
Storing: For best results, store leftover spicy chicken bulgogi in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 4 days. Store the rice and lettuce wraps separately.
Reheating: Reheat in the chicken microwave for 45 – 90 seconds, until warm, or on the stovetop. Reheat the rice in the microwave. Keep the lettuce wraps cold.
If you loved this recipe, try these next!
- Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken
- 15-Minute Chicken Pad Thai
- Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs
- Honey Soy Chicken Thigh Skewers
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Spicy Chicken Bulgogi Recipe
- 1 pound chicken breast, skinless and boneless, cut into 1-inch bite-size pieces
- 1 - 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 head butter lettuce
- 1 cup white or brown rice, cooked
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, optional topping
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1–2 Tbsp cold water
- 1 Tbsp gochujang Korean chili paste
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1 - 3 tsp red chili flakes, based on desired spiciness
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 - 2 Tbsp honey, based on your desired sweetness level
- 1 tsp arrowroot or tapioca starch, or corn starch
- Heat a large saute pan with olive oil to medium-high. Add onion and saute for 1 - 2 minutes, until translucent. Add chicken pieces and cook for 6 – 7 minutes total, until no longer pink on the outside.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, water, gochujang chili paste, minced garlic, grated ginger, red chili flakes. vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and arrowroot starch. TIP: start with 1 tsp of red chili flakes, taste the sauce after simmering, and add more if you want it spicier.
- Once the chicken is ready, reduce heat to low and pour the bulgogi sauce on top of the chicken. Stir to combine and simmer on low until the sauce thickens slightly - for about 2 - 5 minutes. Taste and add more red chili flakes, if desired. NOTE: make sure heat is on low or the sauce will burn.
- Meanwhile, wash lettuce; then break off all large leaves and place them on a paper towel to dry.
- Add a few spoonfuls of rice to each lettuce cup, top with warm chicken, sliced green onions, and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
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